DISCLAIMER: See Part 1
Cargo Bay 2
"Think she'll be OK?" B'Elanna, was sat on the floor, looking up at Seven on the settee, in their quarters. Their Captain and friend had just run from the room.
"She's a strong and resourceful woman. She will be fine. However, I believe it will be difficult for her to come to terms with having let go in such a fashion." Seven answered firmly.
Both Seven and B'Elanna had realised that Kathryn had reacted in a sexual way, to walking in on them making love in Cargo Bay 2 some months earlier, had dreamed about them in fact - dreamed about joining in. Earlier this evening, with much Bolian brandy inside them, Kathryn had verbally initiated sex between them which, when followed by the reality, had left her unable to cope with the Captain vs. Woman With Needs battle. The Captain had won, and Kathryn had sobered up in a hurry, and bolted from the room.
"Tomorrow we'll help her to realise it's no big deal. She needn't feel bad. I'll talk to her, if you like."
"As you wish." Seven fell silent for a short while, playing with B'Elanna's hair. Her eyes were looking at B'Elanna in a strange way.
"What, sweetheart?" Her partner asked softly, reaching up to touch the blonde's hair.
"I believe you call it imagination." B'Elanna looked puzzled but smiling, as Seven continued, "I found the sight of the two of you - kissing. arousing. My - imagination - was just enjoying how it might have progressed between the three of us."
Now B'Elanna's eyes displayed the same look. "You're right, it could have been fun. I guess you'll have to put up with just me, though." she said, looking at Seven with a very appealing smile.
"Come here, my love" purred Seven, reaching down for an extremely sexy kiss.
On her return to her quarters, Kathryn had paced. And paced. Up and down the living area, around the bedroom, back to the living area. And fidgeted, like she had never fidgeted before. `What the Hell was I thinking?' came the endless question, as she continued pacing. `Damn it Kathy, you're a Starship captain. You're in charge of these people. Responsible for them. You cannot step down from your ivory perch, not even for a moment.'
'Not just a Captain, you're a woman too,' argued her other half, `and you have needs.'
'But how the hell do I face either of them again? Oh, Kathy, you've blown the old command structure now.'
One full hour and endless pacing later, nothing more concrete than this row was going on in the Captain's head. She was extremely tired and yet unable to even contemplate sleep. By the end of her aqua shower, Kathryn's `woman with needs' half had even considered that the drunken, three-way, early-aborted sexual session between her and her two officers had actually not been too bad a crime.
By the time she reached her bed however and tried to settle, her Captain side had argued her into feeling dreadfully guilty and ashamed once more. `Oh God, who do I go to when I have a problem?' she asked of her room, plaintively - one of the thousand times she'd realised how alone she was since being catapulted into the Delta Quadrant. She ran the ship. No-one really helped her. Not inside her head, where it mattered.
After a fitful night, which included more pacing and - horrors - coffee, Kathryn called in sick in the morning. Chakotay had sounded more than a little surprised, followed by extreme concern. This was not something his Captain did. `Well, I'm doing it now,' she thought.
Breakfast was not a possibility. Her stomach was having some kind of mutiny all of its own. She thought ruefully, `I must have walked 10 miles already, and I'm still no nearer knowing what to do.' Added to which, sitting still was impossible; lying in bed was impossible; working was impossible.
Dressed in her white housecoat (or `shipcoat', as she called it), with her hair a tousled mess, and pacing for the umpteenth time, Kathryn was startled by the door chime. "Oh God," she said out loud, however she was somewhat calmed by the computer having identified Chakotay outside her door, and not Seven or B'Elanna. She supposed this one could not be avoided, and allowed her First Officer to gain entrance.
"Kathryn?" He was clearly startled by the sight that met his eyes; his Captain had dark circles under her eyes and looked terrible.
"No-one else!" she replied, trying to inject a lightness into this visitation. There was a pause. "If you're going to stare, you can leave," she said in warning. He looked surprised at her changed tone.
"Are you alright?"
"Clearly not. but I will be. Just give me time, Chakotay. I need some time." He felt her begging him, instead of giving an order - she could see he didn't know how to react. Had she been visibly ill she suspected he would have felt more at ease!
"Have you seen the Doctor?"
"If I deem it necessary, I will call him."
"Chakotay," she placed a hand on his arm and looked into his face, "not now. You are capable of running this starship and I'm sure you will do a fine job. I have to take time out. You've got to admit, this doesn't happen, so I'm due some days!" Again, an attempt to lighten the atmosphere. Again it failed.
"Is there anything you want to tell me, Kathryn?"
"Dear friend..." - for a fleeting moment, she actually considered confiding in him. "It's something I have to work through. I'll be fine. Now, go. Run a starship."
He could see there was nothing he could do here. "Yes ma'am. Let me know if you need anything." He turned towards the door.
"Commander," he stopped and turned towards her again, "dinner is cancelled until further notice." Her voice sounded so lost. He frowned and then nodded politely, "Of course." And with that he was gone.
For three days Kathryn stayed away from her position, thoughts going round and round in her head. Food was being admitted sparingly, her stomach still in the throes of being in the throes... and still she was no nearer a course of action, nor even thinking she could face the two people she was obviously avoiding. Unbeknown to her, Chakotay had issued orders that the Captain was not to be disturbed, although he had called in to her quarters to see her twice each day, and had grown more alarmed about how gaunt and slim his Captain was looking.
The door chime interrupted her for the third time in the same day, and it had taken her a while to admit the Doctor. His medical tricorder told him the Captain was undernourished and tired. It also told him she was not ill. With his wonderful bedside manner, he pushed her backwards, onto her settee, and demanded to know why she had allowed herself to get into this state.
"Doctor, I have no intention of..." she exhaled heavily, suddenly running out of steam, the need to talk overriding her caution. Patting the seat next to her she said, "Have a seat, Doctor. I have something to tell you that requires the utmost privacy."
"Have you seen her today?"
"No," replied B'Elanna, looking at Seven's face with an equally concerned expression. Seven moved from the door, where she had just entered, into their quarters and put some padds on the table. "Three days now," B'Elanna continued. "Ah, I wish we could talk to her, help her perhaps."
"Commander Chakotay said she wasn't to be." began Seven.
"Yeah, I know. But I'll tell you this, if the Captain's not back in harness by tomorrow then, hell with Chakotay, I'm going to her."
On the fourth day, the Captain of Voyager returned to her Bridge, looking pale and drawn. She spoke briefly to her fellow crewmembers, and then walked through to her Ready Room, where she had given orders not to be disturbed.
"Face it," the Doctor had said last night, having listened patiently. She had decided early this morning that to `face it' meant `facing them'. `Easier said than done,' she thought, sitting at her desk. She leant her head on her hand for some time, her elbow becoming sore in the process. At length, having decided upon a course of action, she called Seven and B'Elanna to her.
`Thank God,' she thought, as they arrived together. No awkward moments with one, before the other joined them. This would be awkward enough. With difficulty, their Captain looked from one to the other of them, registering their shock at her appearance, and then said, "I have brought you here," she paused, "to reprimand. me - this time."
"I don't understand, Captain," Seven began.
"Oh, it's very simple, really. I am here before you on charges..." she paused, "...of being drunk and disorderly, and of conduct unbecoming a Superior Officer. "
"Captain, I," B'Elanna tried to say, but Kathryn held up a hand to stop her.
"B'Elanna, Seven, I feel acutely embarrassed by what happened, and..."
"But you were drunk, for God's sake. And in private. Hell, these things happen, don't be so hard on yourself." B'Elanna was getting into her stride. "Drunk and disorderly would be a real pain if you'd behaved that way outside of private quarters. I can see it wouldn't go down a whole great deal in the Mess Hall, or on the Bridge, but it was behind closed doors, Captain." She could see Janeway drawing breath to object, and it spurred her on. "And this Conduct Unbecoming a Superior Officer crap - you were there as a friend, not a superior. Dammit, Kathryn there can be no unbecoming conduct between consenting adults. So this is all just so much targshit."
Kathryn felt the tears of embarrassment stinging at the corners of both eyes. She placed a hand over them, and bowed her head. Then she felt B'Elanna's hand on her shoulder, feeling that her Chief Engineer was now squatting beside her chair, soothing her. Still she could not face them.
Her soother continued gently, "We reached out to you because we care about you, and wanted to express that care in an entirely different way, to make you happy."
Seven had joined her partner with Kathryn now. With her chair pushed back, Kathryn had one dear friend squatting on either side of her, comforting her embarrassment. Seven looked at B'Elanna and nodded, and so the Chief Engineer took hold of her Captain's hand and, looking at it, began speaking: "You turned my whole life around, you know," she began, quietly. "I was a mass of fight and anger, a renegade. I wasn't comfortable with who I was, or with any society, and my internal fight spilled out everywhere, even against those who were trying to help me."
B'Elanna raised her eyes, and Kathryn now held her look. She continued, "You gave me a chance, even though you didn't fully trust me. You gave me back a pride of achievement, believed in my possibilities. You helped me back to the right way of living, respected me, put up with me when I was difficult... which, actually, has never changed..." Kathryn smiled. "Tell me. How could I not care about you?"
Before the Captain could say anything, Seven squeezed her other hand, to gain her attention, and said, "You gave me life, Captain. Without you..." Tears were welling up in the ex-Drone's beautiful eyes. "You never gave up on me, even when I gave up on myself. You dealt with my fear, my temper, my arrogance. You never once felt that I was not worth it." Seven's voice cracked with emotion, "I owe you everything." Seven reached up and wrapped an arm around her Captain, and held her. In time, she drew back, to find B'Elanna sitting on the edge of the desk, one foot on the floor.
"Kathryn, Seven and I wouldn't have each other if not for you. Now, by your own admission, you can't have a relationship with anyone else on the ship, in a one-to-one sense. You're so afraid that falling in love will detract from the running of this ship. But you deny yourself sex, and closeness. You don't have to. Being..." she flung an arm around for dramatic effect, "Out Here is not a normal situation for any of us. It calls for extraordinary measures. Let us express our feelings for you, and to you, and envelop you in our joy. We have enough."
"And how do you expect that to work, B'Elanna?" the Captain asked, her voice deep with emotion. "It would change everything."
"I disagree," B'Elanna argued. I would still expect you to shout at me, discipline me and put up with my moods!" She smiled, stopped and smiled again, in her own endearing way. "What do you say, Captain." The half-Klingon looked across to her beloved ex-Borg, who smiled and nodded her agreement.
Kathryn picked her words carefully, slowly: "I would have to go a long way - further than Voyager has yet managed to travel - to find friends as good and true as you two," she looked from B'Elanna to Seven. "I have no wish to damage the feelings we all have in any way..." she sighed, "...and you are right in what you say about my needs but I have to say, thanks, but no thanks."
"Kathryn, if..." Seven began.
"No. I cannot see a way to be so open and free, and yet remain in control of you, and the ship. Believe me, I wish I could," she looked with a sad smile at each of them.
"There could be a way."
"No B'Elanna, Seven. The sight of you two, in the Cargo Bay that day, highlighted the lack of closeness and sexual expression in my life, certainly. And so I had a dream, born out of frustration - my mistake was to even consider it could happen in reality. I was wrong." Kathryn smiled at both of them, "drunk, a little vulnerable and wrong."
B'Elanna began to object again, but her Captain firmly said, "Dismissed! but first give me a big hug." She grinned broadly, as they all stood. "A three way hug, to say, more than words can, how much I care about you two," and she drew them into a benign and loving hug. Somehow, nobody wanted to let go.
The door chimed then and, granted entry, Chakotay strode in and looked left, towards the huddle, as the three pulled back a little, still in an obvious group hug situation - all smiles. He was relieved to see his Captain smiling, and stood awaiting her next move.
Kathryn smiled at her First Officer. "It's a girl thing, Commander."
"So I see." He smiled easily, relaxed with this show of affection.
B'Elanna and Seven withdrew from Kathryn. "If you should ever change your mind."
"I won't, Lieutenant." Smiling, she bade them leave.
Chakotay said playfully, when they were alone, "If you don't take them up on whatever they are offering, mind if I do?" His Captain's half-smile grew into a full one, as she motioned him towards the desk. As they began on the work of the day, Chakotay relaxed knowing the Captain was back in control once more.
"Why, in all the Worlds, did I let you talk me into this!" laughed Kathryn.
Chakotay, sitting with her around a campfire and eating traditional Indian fare with a tribe of Indians, stated flatly, "This is that `small place' I told you about, in North America.!"
"But I expected a restaurant!" laughed Kathryn, perplexed.
"I never said."
"And pot-roast. Don't they do pot-roast here?"
"Not burnt, nor otherwise," counteracted Chakotay, clearly enjoying their conversation. "I tell you what."
"How about we eat dinner in your quarters next week?"
"Oh, but I thought you implied I needed to get out more, Commander.?"
"I can be wrong, Kathryn."
His Captain thought for a moment, suddenly quiet, and then said carefully, "So can I."
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